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NEWS | Feb. 27, 2017

Military Funeral Honors demonstrates units ready to serve

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood 412th Theater Engineer Command

Several Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 412th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) based in Vicksburg, Miss., and the 365th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion (CSSB), Jackson, Miss., demonstrated that the Reserve is ready to serve.

The contingent rendered Military Funeral Honors (MFH) for a Reserve officer at the Enon Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Miss. Jan. 21, 2017. This honor steeped in tradition included providing pallbearers, a rifle salute team and a bugle player.

This was the first time that the TEC team had performed a MFH. It also was the first time that the Command’s Staff. Sgt. Ariel DeLeon, who has performed more than 300 MFH as both a Troop Program Unit (TPU) and Active Guard Reserve soldier, was both a pallbearer and a member of the rifle salute team at the same funeral.
 
“It was a great experience and even a greater honor,” said DeLeon who as a TPU soldier performed at four to five funerals Monday through Friday at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery.
 
This also was the first time that Sgt. 1st Class Corey Abel, budget noncommissioned officer at the Command, took the reigns as a detail commander. This funeral also was personal to him. He knew the fallen soldier who at one time served as an operations officer at Camp Shelby, Miss.
 
“I was told by several people that we did a great job,” said Abel. “The family and friends treated us with so much respect.”

This also was the first time that Command Safety Officer Lt. Col. Glenn Scott assumed Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO) duties.  His tasks included escorting the fallen soldier’s former wife and his two daughters to all functions.
 
He said that the detail performed well.

Its noteworthy performance could have stemmed from two days of practice in the TEC headquarters drill hall. Tables were used as the casket. One of the tables was draped with a U.S. flag. This allowed Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Reed with the TEC and Sgt. Luis Gonzalez with the CSSB to practice the ceremonial folding of the U.S. flag. When done, the American flag was folded 13 times on the triangles and into a symbolic tri-cornered shape.
 
Like every good soldier, Abel and his team still had to adjust for the unexpected. An American flag had to be placed on the casket, something his soldiers did not practice.

When asked what were the lessons learned from this experience besides adjusting and overcoming, he replied, “More practice time, have the right number of Soldiers and have a casket to practice with.”

“As a soldier we can make anything happen with a short notice,” he added. “One team, one fight.”

Scott, who pointed out he will volunteer for more CAO duties, said he was impressed with the Soldier’s commitment.

“They were professional, well-practiced and executed their duties flawlessly,” he said.

This detail also was ready to serve when it came time to render full honors to a soldier for his honorable and faithful service.